How to Maintain a Sleeping Bag After Camping

How to Maintain a Sleeping Bag After CampingChoosing the perfect sleeping bag is an important gear decision and represents a significant investment. Keeping that bag in great shape is an ongoing process. Whether your bag contains down, feathers or synthetic filling, whatever its loft, and regardless of the shape and brand of your sleeping bag, your actions during and after each camping trip will determine its lifetime. Treat it well and this sleeping bag may provide comfortable outdoor sleeping for a decade or more.


Difficulty: Easy

General Post-Camping Tips

Step 1
Unpack your sleeping bag from its stuff sack. Go outdoors (inside a garage or carport or directly outside your door is fine). Turn the sleeping bag wrong side out and shake it vigorously.
Step 2
Pin the bag to a clothesline for several hours and allow it to air outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
Step 3
Fold the bag in half over a clothes hanger, or place it in a large mesh bag along with its stuff sack and compression sack, if you have them. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball or small wooden block for a fresh smell.
Step 4
Between camping trips, store your sleeping bag in a cool closet. Keep it on the hanger or in the mesh bag; do not store it inside its stuff sack or in any way that will compress it.

Washing the Sleeping Bag in Your Bathtub

Step 1
Follow the sleeping bag manufacturer's instructions to choose the appropriate laundry soap and mix the soap solution. Take off your shoes and wear clothing you don't mind getting splashed.
Step 2
Add your bag to the soapy water. Knead it and swish it, using your hands and feet.
Step 3
Let the sleeping bag soak for 15 minutes.
Step 4
Drain the soapy water and rinse the bag in clear, cold water several times, until all the suds and any soapy feeling are gone.
Step 5
Press out as much water as you can, but do not wring the sleeping bag. Hang it for several hours in a place where drips are all right, perhaps right over the bathtub.
Step 6
Move the damp sleeping bag to an outdoor clothesline and dry thoroughly. Alternately, you may dry almost every bag in an ordinary clothes dryer, using air and gentle tumble settings but no heat. Read the sleeping bag label to be sure you can dry your bag this way.
Step 7
When the sleeping bag is entirely dry, shake it to fluff its stuffing.

Washing the Sleeping Bag in Your Washing Machine

Step 1
Launder the sleeping bag in a front-loading, tumble-style washing machine, the kind found at most Laundromats. Avoid top-loading home and commercial washers, since the agitator action may ruin the bag.
Step 2
Use the gentlest setting, with the most water ("large load" setting) and the least detergent. Make sure to choose cold water for both wash and rinse.
Step 3
Proceed directly to the outdoor clothesline or cool tumble dryer.
Step 4
When the bag is completely dry, shake it well to fluff the stuffing.

Dry Clean the Sleeping Bag

Step 1
Not all dry cleaners know how to handle sleeping bags, so trust your sleeping bag only to a knowledgeable shop. This is no time to save $5.
Step 2
When you get your sleeping bag back, shake it well to fluff the stuffing. Air the bag outside or in a well-ventilated area for up to a day. This will allow some of the dry-cleaning chemical fumes to outgas.
Step 3
Turn and shake the sleeping bag. Air the inside for another day

Tips & Warnings

When you're camping, sleep with a bag liner between yourself and your bag. The liner adds sleeping warmth, and an added benefit is that you will seldom need to launder your sleeping bag. At home, wash the liner as you would a bed sheet. You can make an inexpensive liner from a used sheet. Just fold the sheet lengthwise, and sew a seam in a large "L" along the bottom and up one side. Stop within 18 to 24 inches of the top, leaving an opening through which to enter.
Frequently shake out and fluff your sleeping bag--every day, if you can.
Keep your bag dry. If it gets wet, dry it as best you can.
When you're packing your bag in its stuff sack, don't roll it or fold it; stuff it. This method helps you avoid developing areas in the bag that have thinner stuffing.
Revitalize a flattened down sleeping bag by tumbling in an electric dryer, no heat, with a few tennis balls.
The best authority for how to clean or launder a sleeping bag is its manufacturer.
Mend tears immediately. While camping, use duct tape. Later, use patch material for sleeping bags.
Keep your sleeping bag out of plastic bags. Let it breathe so you can.


Article Written By Lani Johnson

Lani Johnson is a hiking, writing musician. Recent published work includes journalism, poetry and research. See her online writing at or at

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